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Thursday, November 4,2010

Politics and pot

Williamston pot club owner the victim of politics, lawyer says

by Andy Balaskovitz


dagit_incourt.jpg

Dagit (right) with his attorneys Michael Van Huysse (left) and James White (center). Photo by Andy Balaskovitz.


The attorney for the owner of Green Leaf Smokers Club in Williamston said in court today the charges against his client are “politically motivated” and result from a “classic case of entrapment.”

James White said evidence of political motivation stems from comments made to the media by Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth shortly after his client, Frederick “Wayne" Dagit, opened the business in February. Wriggelsworth called the smoking club a “joke.” White said the charges exemplify law enforcement’s disdain for the state’s new medical marijuana law.

Wriggelsworth was unavailable for comment.

White spoke at a hearing in Mason in which 55th District Judge Donald Allen Jr. ordered Dagit freed on a tether while he awaits trial. Dagit has been in Ingham County Jail since May 26. Bail had been set at $500,000.

Allen acted after the prosecutor reduced Dagit’s most serious charge to possession and intent to deliver between five and 45 kilograms of marijuana, instead of more than 45 kilograms, which carries a sentence of up to 15 years. The new charge provides a sentence of up to seven years.

White said Dagit acted within the confines of the state Medical Marihuana Act and did not operate a drug house.

“His (Dagit) behavior was consistent with what is allowed under the Medical Marihuana Act, and we will assert that defense vigorously,” White said outside the courtroom. “This is a classic case of entrapment.”

White also argued that Dagit is not a flight risk because he has custody of his teenage son.

Dagit was scheduled to have his preliminary examination today, but it was postponed because undercover officers involved with the operation against Dagit are on case in Chicago, preventing them from testifying in court, Ingham County Assistant Prosecutor Bill Crino said.

The preliminary examination was rescheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 12.

A confidential informant is alleged to have set up a business transaction with Dagit to store 200 pounds of marijuana at Dagit’s home and another 67 pounds at his smoking club, 530 E. Grand River Ave. Crino told the court that Dagit and the informant had a wholesaler/distributor relationship between early March and the time of Dagit’s arrest that started out as smaller deals and worked up to the final one that landed Dagit in jail.

Crino said this is evidence of “an escalating pattern” of the informant’s becoming Dagit’s “exclusive dealer.” Judge Allen agreed that they are relevant and “significantly similar” incidents and that this evidence will be used as the case moves forward.

Crino also revealed that the confidential informant is under federal investigation, but would not go into detail as to what that investigation is about. Dagit’s attorney, James White of White Law PLLC, said he is aware of the federal investigation but also could not go into detail about it.

White said Dagit’s bond should either be drastically reduced from $500,000 or that he should be released on a GPS-tracking tether because “a bunch of old guys smoking marijuana” does not pose a threat to the community, and that Dagit’s son keeps him from leaving town. Allen agreed to let him out on a tether if he meets certain requirements, such as having a home and a landline telephone.

Dagit remained silent throughout this false start of a preliminary examination.


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